Upon leaving Nabesna Road, Andrew, Ame and I took Rosie down to Chitina.We found a free campground one mile from town (across the Copper River Bridge).While the campground is not something special (just a few dirt lots with fire rings and broken old picnic tables) the location is convenient for visiting the town of McCarthy and historic Kennecott Mine located inside the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.
The next day we decided to challenge ourselves with the notorious McCarthy Road, rumored to be the worst road in America…taking the lives 100s of tires each year.The road begins with a warning to remind you – avoid traveling the road unless needed, make sure to tell someone before traveling the road AND carry a spare tire just in case.
With this road’s nasty reputation built up to legendary status, we were shocked to find it so tame.It had a few bumpy moments, but nothing compared to the Alcan Highway.
Once arriving at the end of the road, (meaning when the road stops at the foot bridge) we located some free parking and headed over the bridge into McCarthy.The town is made up a few shops, restaurants and a museum.Mainly, everyone stops there to catch the shuttle over to the old Kennecott Copper Mine.By the way, the shuttle is pet friendly, which is good to know since the mine is 5 miles away.
Our time at Kennecott and McCarthy were short, but definitely worth the trip to see and photograph old abandoned buildings and rusty industrial artifacts.
Our final few days camped on Nabesna Road were spend exploring a little more of the area.One day we hiked the park’s Caribou Creek Trail.This three mile (one way) trail follows an old atv path along Caribou Creek.The first half of the trail is all forested, while the second half cross the creek several times before ending at the park’s public use cabin.The view of Mt. Sanford and surrounding mountains was spectacular.
On Sunday, we headed about an hour and half away into the community Glennallen.This small town was quite busy with travelers stopping to pick up supplies, grab lunch and top off their gas tanks before heading down to Valdez or Anchorage areas.After stopping by the IGA for a few items and grabbing lunch at the Tok Thai food truck, we managed to find a ramshackled liquor store to grab a few bottles of wine.
For Memorial Day, we stayed close to home.The weather was beginning to shift from sunny mid-80s to cloudy, windy 50s.Preparing to move again, we took a little time adjusting and re-securing items before meeting up with more frostheaved, bumpy roads.
Next stop southern part of Wrangell-St Elias, Copper Center, Chitina.
For the next few weeks, we plan to camp and hike around Wrangell-St Elias National Park.This will be our second Alaska National Park, the first one accessible by road.After stocking up on supplies in Tok:Three Bear for groceries and Chevron station for water, we took the Tok Cutoff toward Glenn Highway and headed down to the Slana Ranger Station.As long as road conditions were favorable, our plan was to camp in the National Park off Nabesna Road.
The ranger assured us that road conditions for trailers/camper were good up to mile marker 29, where stream crossing begin.The road is paved up to mile 14 (not 16 as some sources say) and gravel after. The ranger also cheerful stated that (unlike any other National Park) we could camp for free at any of the waysides, gravel pullouts or organized campsites AND pets are allowed on all trails.Thrilled, we headed down the road to a fantastically dry and private spot between mile 12-13.This would be our home through the holiday weekend.(another positive:great 4G reception with our booster).
Time for a little hiking.First stop…end of the road (mile 42) for the Rambler Mine trail.This steep, but short (1.5 mile r/t) trail, which used to be a road, leads hikers to a 1940’s gold mine.The mine is a collection of abandoned shacks and rusty equipment.We were amused by finding a new grill and fire extinguisher stored in the shack that wore a danger sign, which included information about dangerous gases and unstable explosives from the mine. That would definitely make for explosive cook-out.
More to hiking to come…Enjoy Memorial Day weekend!